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4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,492 ratings  ·  116 reviews
From instant celebrity at age 23 to alcoholic loner by mid-life, Truman Capote streaked across the middle of this century on a comet of genius, self-destruction and fame. Drawing on interviews with Capote and with nearly everyone who knew him, and with exclusive access to personal papers, Gerald Clarke has written the definitive biography of an incomparable man and his tim...more
Paperback, 632 pages
Published April 8th 1989 by Ballantine Books (first published 1988)
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Capote: Gerald Clarke's Literary Biography

It took me a hellishly long time to read this book. Of course, I was reading it in conjunction with a read of Capote's works at the same time. So, I would read a novel, or a few short stories, and I would take back up with Clarke's biography.

But that's rather an excuse. Because Capote's life is often not a pleasant subject--not from childhood up to his last days, lost in a fog of Vodka and drugs.

And I've taken a hellishly long time to absorb what I've re...more
Mikey B.
A very well written and extensive biography of the celebrated American author. Truman Capote was a very gregarious person and was always the life of any gathering or party (except towards the end of his life). When he traveled (whether to New York or Europe) it was not to take in museums or sites, but to meet the inhabitants – particularly if they were famous, wealthy and/or notorious.

As Mr. Clarke points out Truman Capote had a neglected upbringing – he was abandoned by both his parents and to...more
In my opinion the author assesses various aspects of his life appropriately, but leaves some areas grossly underrepresented or wrongly assessed. For a concrete example of this, Capote's adolescent experiences of being the victim of coerced sex by boys, is playfully written off as relatively innocent forays (spellcheck) into sexuality. Since when is coerced sex relatively innocent? I guess he's thinking boys will be boys. His experiences with a pedophile teacher, I felt, were also grossly underpl...more
if you are going to read one book on capote, this is it--please excuse the hackneyed phrase, but it will make you laugh and cry. I honestly feel like i understand truman and i wish i wouldve known him. quote by Truman Capote from Conversations with Capote by Lawrence Gorbel:
"This man Gerald Clarke who's writing this book about me--do you know him? He's one of the lead writers at Time magazine. He's really a very good writer. His book, it better be fantastic, because he's worked on it for eight...more
Hannah Kirchner
This book broke my heart. The man had so much brilliance and too many "red devils."

His rise and fall seems so much like that of his mother Nina (on which the character Holly Golightly was partially based and with whom he had a love/hate relationship). Once he became well known in the 40s (more for who he was and what was anticipated he would do), he spent his recreational time social climbing until he had reached the top of the strata.

Like his mother, he had his face pressed against the window...more
Kristine Stevens
The plushness of the details in this book rival one of Truman's velvet suits. I feel like I was a fly on the wall of his incredibly dramatic life. I rocket soared with him to the top of literary fame and glory and felt such sadness and frustration that his later years sank into such addiction and dysfunction. Very well written. The only downside: All those details created a very heavy book, but that I can happily deal with.
Margaret Sharp
Currently, this is the best biography written about Capote. Could not put it down.
This massive and comprehensive biography of Truman Capote was captivating. As a firm believer tat most biographies are enjoyable if one is a fan of the subject’s work, this book did no disappoint. Clarks’s intimate and detailed portrayal of Capote was certainly unbiased. Clarke held the mirror clearly for all to see Truman Capote’s genius, flaws, foibles, and his even darker side with narcissism, control, alcohol, and abuse. That Truman Capote came from a textbook example of a dysfunctional fami...more
It is very difficult to criticize any biography of Truman Capote. The man was a first class character and an excellent writer who managed to shape our literary culture in ways we are still talking about. Any biography written about him has to be interesting. It was a good read.

There were a few problems I had with the book, but I think I can attribute that to my own pickiness rather than the author's lack of knowledge or research. My complaints are mostly technical. I consider it a poor editor wh...more
Brilliant. Here's a long, gossipy biography you can really sink your teeth into. It makes me want to reread all Capote's books. Do I dare read In Cold Blood again? It gave me nightmares years afterward.

I love Truman Capote's writing style. He was an absolute literary genius who never got enough credit for his talent. I think because he was so commercial, and such a celebrity. He had beyond-movie-star status. The guy was one of the most powerful men in America for nearly a decade. Yet it was nev...more
(nb: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss)

After he published “In Cold Blood,” Truman Capote was the most famous writer in America, if not the world. Its novelesque telling of a true story received widespread critical acclaim, intrigued the countless readers who bought the book, and was turned into a successful Hollywood film.

This was also the apex of Truman Capote’s life. He’d been successful as a writer, and he’d made friends with his “swans,” a group...more
Oct 13, 2007 Núria rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: amantes de Capote o de las anécdotas
No he leído muchas biografías, pero sí que he leído muchas biografías de Franz Kafka. Por esto puedo decir que esta biografía de Truman Capote es correcta, pero se queda a años luz de ser calificada de brillante. Quizás es porque tengo idealizada la biografía de Kafka de Reiner Stach, pero yo quiero que una biografía esté contada como si fuera una novela y que no se limite a contarnos los hechos, sino que también los analice, que se intente meter de verdad en la piel del biografiado para compren...more
Don't know why this guy fascinates me, but he does. When I've read a lot of books that I like by an author, I often begin to wonder what makes them tick! This book is probably the definitive biography of Capote but the addition of some slender volumes by Capote's family really fills in the gaps. The best is probably "The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote" by Marie Rudisill. She was his cousin and she takes the books he wrote on his childhood and then recalls the situation she feels influences t...more
Not surprisingly, Truman Capote knew hundreds of famous people.

And Gerald Clarke introduces every single one of them with a mini-bio of his or her own.

Unfortunately, Clarke doesn't use Capote's groundbreaking "nonfiction novel" technique in this biography. It often reads like a textbook, the chronology gets all out of whack and it never feels like a narrative.

Granted, he had an astounding amount of material to work with, including years of interviews with Capote and those closest to him. I have...more
Miranda Thomason
The author started this work while Truman was still alive. Like Truman waiting of the outcome of In Cold Blood, the author must have had to wait on the death of Truman to finish his book. The research is remarkable. The author starts before Truman is born with the story of his parents. Those two were a book within themselves. The reader is given a sense of what made Truman. Early childhood, teenage years, early success, then years of being a celebrated writer, and then the decline. I have been a...more
shurooq Jaradat
it's the best novel until now cause he was genius in his writing style ..
the end was tragedy kind of but it's fair .. in my opinion every assassin must receive punishment

Regardless of the causes pushed him to do it the 4 person in the family was an Innocent so

the execution for the two criminal's was fair ....

This is a great, engagingly written biography of a fascinating author and person. I do, however, wish I'd read all of Capote's works before reading this. Clarke gives away far too many spoilers for my taste. In the telling of the writing of many of Capote's works, Gerald Clarke gives away just about everything there is regarding plots, and even the endings.

If you've already read everything you intend to read by Capote, I highly recommend this biography. Capote lead an incredible - though not en...more
Larynda McKay
A good biography is worth the 500+ pages, and the time it takes to read it. The Gerald Clarke, biography of Truman Capote was worth every page turned, in my opinion. Capote was quite the character. I wish, wholly wish, I got to hob-knob along side him for a summer. To hear him laugh, snicker about the latest gossip and attend one of his parties. I have regret for something that is wholly impossible; to live near Capote and be able to experience his life, first-hand.

I could say a lot about this...more
What a compicated and tragic figure. The book really has two Truman's, the pre In Cold Blood Truman who sounds like a wonderful person to be around, and the after In Cold Blood Truman who becomes a vindictive, vengeful drug and alcohol addicted Truman who hardly resembles the person in the beginning of the book. Even the tone of the book changes and the author makes it clear in the afterward that he began the book just before these changes started happening...that he witnessed the downward spira...more
Extremely well-researched and organized, and generally well-written, though occasionally it's hard to follow certain anecdotes or recurring figures because of the sheer volume of both. But, and I don't really think it's fair to blame Clarke for this, I find that I'm losing my enthusiasm for desriptive biographies. As fascinating a figure as Capote was, and much as Clarke does to recapture his escapades and describe the psyche that drove them, I didn't really feel much closer to understanding the...more
Very good book. I am happy i stuck with it. Sad, interesting life. All the people he knew made the book very interesting.
Author becomes noticeably enamored with Capote about halfway through, which colors the ending of the book.
Great book loaned to me by friend. Lots of interesting details I never knew about Capote....
Dana Gynther
A fast-paced, well-written biography of a very interesting-- if not somewhat pathetic-- man. Also a fascinating peek at the publishing world -- at least its darlings-- at that time. The idea that one could become a rising super-star after publishing a couple of short stories in women's magazines!

Hats off to the author, Gerald Clarke, who spent a lot of time with Capote and his cohorts the last decade of his life (ie, when he was an alcoholic social pariah) and managed to leave himself out of the...more
Jolinda Van
This was a graphic account of a gifted writer's slide into alcoholism. The first part of the book was early childhood years of Capote and his family. A great deal of the book dealt with his relationships, famous people of the times, a lot of society names that were quite well known in the mid 1900's. There is a chilling account of the time that he spent doing the research for and writing "In Cold Blood". The book was well written but ultimately sad and depressing and left me with a feeling that...more
Fernando Morales Mora
Compré este libro pues tenía muchísimas ganas de saber acerca de la vida de Capote, sin embargo pasaron dos años para que yo pudiera leerlo, pero valió muchísimo la pena leerlo, pues es un libro muy bien escrito, fácil de leer, entretenido. la vida de Truman Capote fue sin duda muy interesante, todas las cosas que vivió de niño lo llevaron a ser lo que fue y a escribir los libros que escribió, a pesar de estar rodeado por tanta gente y ser tan querido, era un hombre que se sentía solo, y ese vac...more
Michael Flick
Obsessively detailed, Clarke had access to Capote himself (or as "himself" as Capote played it) and most of the people who knew him. But I come away from this book feeling that I really didn't know Truman Capote--maybe because he didn't ever really know himself. To Gerald Clarke's credit, I think Capote would have disappeared into ancient history by now except for this book and the motion picture based on it. The idea that Capote is enshrined with Marcel Proust under a café awning on Parnassus,...more
Man this is a good bio but you have to be patient- it's over 800 pages. It's worth it- you really get a sense of who Truman Capote was, and the period during the Kansas murders is intense but is not the most intense period. In fact, I'd say that AFTER writing the masterpiece In Cold Blood it was more difficult for Truman to come down from that acclaim- hence, Answered Prayers. Also, Truman had some fascinating friends (Babe Paley, Kennedys, etc), most of whom he never spoke to again after he wro...more
'At first you can't believe him, he's so odd and then you want to carry him around with you always' - Humphrey Bogart about TC, in a letter to his wife Lauren Bacall.
Well written, fascinating, and heartbreaking.
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Gerald Clarke is a journalist and biographer.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
More about Gerald Clarke...
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